Appalling delays in emergency and routine care will remain for some time

Sarah Scobie responds to the latest monthly NHS performance stats from NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Press release

Published: 12/05/2022

Responding to the latest monthly performance stats from NHS England, Nuffield Trust Deputy Director of Research Dr Sarah Scobie said:

“Health and care services and their staff continue to grapple with a near-impossible situation. We are seeing signs of some progress on waiting times, but this does not take away from the reality that patients still and for some time will find themselves facing appalling delays for emergency and routine care.

“It has now been two years since the beginning of the pandemic when we saw a huge drop in the number of people being referred for NHS treatment, so it is not surprising two years later to see the number of two-year waits fall, now at almost 17,000 - a 29% drop from January 2022. Alongside this the waiting list as a whole continues to grow beyond 6.3m patients so there is a very long way to go to return to even pre-pandemic levels.  

“Small reductions in ambulance response times should also be seen in the context of continuing frightening waits for patients. Patients with emergency conditions such as heart attack or stroke should be seen by an ambulance in 18 minutes on average, but 1 in 10 of them are facing waits of almost two hours. These delays could lead to unintended or life-changing consequences.”

Notes to editors